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Longwood Gardens. Photo by joanneleon.April, 2012

May your glass be ever full.
May the roof over your head be always strong.
And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you're dead.

-- Irish Blessing





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News and Opinion


Fiscal Cliff Quotes of the Day

"The House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass. Now it is up to the president to work with Senator Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff. The House has already passed legislation to stop all of the January 1 tax rate increases and replace the sequester with responsible spending cuts that will begin to address our nation's crippling debt. The Senate must now act" Boehner
The House did pass one part of Boehner's fallback -- a bill to cut spending by $200 billion, mostly by slashing domestic programs, including favorite GOP targets such as health care and food stamps.
[...]
"If we go over the fiscal cliff, the president just comes back and says, 'Ok, we're going to give tax cuts to everybody under 250,000.' Who's going to vote against that? Everybody'll vote for that. Everybody," Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) said shortly before the votes. "It will be just a fait accompli. You won't be voting on whether you're going to do away with a tax cut, you're going to be reimposing tax cuts for everybody under 250,000. So the Republicans are in an untenable situation."
Exactly what should happen, Mr. Burton ...link
To placate conservatives, Boehner also scheduled a vote on shifting $55 billion in scheduled defense cuts to cuts in food and health benefits for the poor and other domestic programs. That measure narrowly passed by a vote of 215 to 209.
[...]
SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE?

Many analysts say Boehner will eventually split the difference with Obama, who wants to lower the threshold to households that earn more than $400,000 annually.

Obama also faces resistance on his left flank from liberals who oppose cuts to popular benefit programs, which Republicans say must be part of any deal to tame the nation's debt.

Obama and Boehner will need to engage in more political theater to build support for the painful concessions that will have to be part of any deal to avert the cliff and rein in the national debt, analysts say.

"They have to demonstrate how hard they're trying to get everything they can," said Joe Minarik, a former Democratic budget official now with the Committee For Economic Development, a centrist think tank.
 Does that mean the difference between $1M and 400K, as in, $700K? ...link

“A lot of our members are very uncomfortable already with the compromises the president has made. He has given  on very important areas…Democrats in the house already have heartburn but many are willing to take what is a compromise, recognizing you don’t get everything your way,” Van Hollen told Chris Jansing.

Van Hollen also said that Boehner is trying to drag negotiations out until after he’s elected speaker.

“If he alienates a whole lot of members of his caucus in fact he doesn’t have to alienate that many – if he loses about 17 members or less of his caucus, he risks not being re-elected speaker on January third.”  ...link

Paul Simon sings at funeral of Sandy Hook heroine teacher Victoria Soto as Newtown lays to rest another hero school staffer and four slain students

She went to her grave to the strains of “The Sound of Silence.”

Teacher Victoria Soto, who used her body to shield her students from a madman’s bullets, was serenaded by Paul Simon before she was laid to rest Wednesday.

Neither here nor there?  Carrying water for Obama again, because if she says it's not a cut then he and Biden weren't blatantly lying to the country to get reelected. They really shouldn't put her out there to do the spin because she is so bloody bad at it.  It amazes me how she allows herself to be used this way, but hey, what do I know about what's in it for her?  Befuddling indeed, but not in the way she thinks.  It also shows how little respect the Democratic people have for their supporters.  But we pretty much knew that already.  Don't worry your little heads about this. It's neither here nor there.  All you need is blind faith while we sell you down the river for our own gain.  Time to retire, Madame Speaker.
Nancy Pelosi Says Social Security Cut Proposed By Obama Would 'Strengthen' Program

Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill that a cut proposed by President Barack Obama in the fiscal cliff negotiations would in fact "strengthen" the program, echoing the claims often made by Republicans about entitlement programs they want to slash.

Her remarks come a day after she said that liberals in Congress who are unhappy with Obama's concession to the GOP would nevertheless support them.
[...]
But Pelosi wrapped both her arms around it Wednesday, insisting she does not regard it as a "cut."

"No, I don’t," she told reporters. "I consider it a strengthening of Social Security, but that’s neither here nor there."

"There’s no use even discussing that because we don’t even know if we have plan," she continued. "And if the savings that the Republicans are talking about is $300 billion, then the cuts to be made on the other side are far lower. And that’s how we see it. But it is interesting to see that even with the concessions on cuts and, what you just described, the chained CPI and things like that -– the president put on the table what everybody has been discussing for quite a long time. And once again, as he did 18 months ago, the speaker walked away. The speaker walked away. There’s an attempt to try to put it at the president’s doorstep, which is completely ridiculous. In fact, some would say, 'befuddling.'"

Earlier in her press conference Wednesday, however, Pelosi seemed to be expressing opposition to the concession. "I’ve said to the members: 'express yourselves,' you know, 'speak out against,' because I’m not thrilled with the president’s proposal, I mean, it is what it is in order to save the day," she said. "But that doesn’t mean that we’ll all identify with every aspect of it. So, they go forth with my blessing."

Sen. Bernie Sanders: 'Mr. President, I am Disappointed'
Remember when President Obama promised not to cut Social Security benefits? Remember when president-hopeful Barack Obama promised not to cut Social Security benefits?

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) gave a speech on the Senate floor on Thursday slamming President Obama for going back on repeated assurances that Social Security would not be part of deficit reduction talks.

Sanders' comments were echoed in the House on Thursday when Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) took to the floor and argued that Social Security benefits have no place in the budget deficit talks. He blasts the proposed "chained CPI" that would force seniors into "a poverty of choices, a lower standard of living."

"No to throwing seniors off the fiscal cliff. No to a Cat Food Christmas," stated Kucinich.

Kucinich on the House floor on Thursday:

For what it's worth, Dan Froomkin seems to think this is worth reading.  He says that this guy was right in his predictions about 2012.  I don't know anything about the author.  He gives what seems to be a pretty optimistic prediction, depending on what way you look at it.  I excerpted the preface and not the actual predictions because if I just excerpted the bullet items without the discussion, I felt it would lose too much value. So you'll have to open the link to see what he predicts will happen.  I think his prediction does not make a lot of sense because it looks to me like he believes the whole deficit obsession will just fade away.  Maybe that would make sense if it was all just conjured up by the 1% in order to hang onto the Bush tax cuts in cold clenched fists and once those are gone, they'll give up and pay a bit more of their fair share (assuming they expire).  Maybe if the economy really does rebound, the focus on deficit and debt will fade away.  He also predicts that CEOs will have less influence on Washington. I don't think any of this seems very likely.  But this guy was correct in his predictions last year, so I guess it's worth reading.
A Budget Crystal Ball for 2013
Don’t expect Congress to tackle a tax overhaul anytime soon

The four predictions that have already worked as I expected were that (1) There would be no movement on the federal budget, including no budget resolution in 2012; (2) To the extent there was any big budget fight in 2012, it would be about avoiding the fiscal cliff; (3) The Obama 2013 budget would not specify how the White House would comply with the sequester; and (4) No tax overhaul bill would be enacted.

(Note on No. 2: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke had not yet coined the phrase “fiscal cliff” when I made last year’s predictions, and I used “sequester” to describe what would happen at the start of 2013. That doesn’t weaken the value of the prediction, although I really wish I had predicted that fiscal cliff would become one of the most hated postelection topics of the year.)

The one prediction whose fate is still unknown is that I told readers not to be shocked if the only thing that happens in a lame-duck session is a deal that both extends the tax cuts and delays the sequester spending cuts until June 30, 2013, or beyond. We should know in a few weeks whether that happens.

Given my stellar record for 2012, I should probably retire now while I’m at the top of my game. Not taking my own advice, here are my fearless budget forecasts for 2013.

[...]

Stan Collender (@thebudgetguy) is a partner at Qorvis Communications and author of “The Guide to the Federal Budget.” His blog is capitalgainsandgames.com.

Didn't realize the FBI had a news section.  No commenting but has social media.  Anyway, another freaking bank fraud, corruption, and a credit union this time.  And look, a banking executive going to prison.  Why do credit union execs go to jail but Wall Street execs don't?  Interesting.
Bank Fraud Hits Home
Historic Community Credit Union Collapses

For years, the St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union in Eastlake, Ohio—about 30 miles northeast of Cleveland—had provided financial support to Croatians who had settled in the area and to others in the community. Through loans and additional services, the credit union helped many achieve their dreams of owning a home or business.

That all came to an end in April 2010, when the institution was placed into conservatorship and declared insolvent by the National Credit Union Administration—the independent federal body that oversees federal credit unions.

The failure of the St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union, or SPCFCU, was one of the largest credit union collapses in American history, but it didn’t have to happen. Much of the blame has been placed squarely on the shoulders of its chief operating officer, Anthony Raguz, who over a 10-year period accepted more than $1 million worth of bribes, kickbacks, and gifts in exchange for issuing a thousand fraudulent loans valued at more than $70 million. Last month, Raguz was sentenced to 14 years in prison on charges of bank fraud, money laundering, and bank bribery and ordered to pay $71.5 million in restitution.

Injuries and deaths due to firearms in the home.

Kellermann AL, et al.
J Trauma. 1998 Aug;45(2):263-7.

Affiliation
Center for Injury Control, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA.

Abstract
OBJECTIVE: Determine the relative frequency with which guns in the home are used to injure or kill in self-defense, compared with the number of times these weapons are involved in an unintentional injury, suicide attempt, or criminal assault or homicide.

METHODS: We reviewed the police, medical examiner, emergency medical service, emergency department, and hospital records of all fatal and nonfatal shootings in three U.S. cities: Memphis, Tennessee; Seattle, Washington; and Galveston, Texas.

RESULTS: During the study interval (12 months in Memphis, 18 months in Seattle, and Galveston) 626 shootings occurred in or around a residence. This total included 54 unintentional shootings, 118 attempted or completed suicides, and 438 assaults/homicides. Thirteen shootings were legally justifiable or an act of self-defense, including three that involved law enforcement officers acting in the line of duty. For every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.

CONCLUSIONS: Guns kept in homes are more likely to be involved in a fatal or nonfatal accidental shooting, criminal assault, or suicide attempt than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense.





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